Three-Month Check-In as a Google Cloud Customer Engineer with John White, Part 1

Welcome to episode 66 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode Nick checks in with John three months after his move to Google Cloud.

Original Recording Date: 2020-01-25

Topics – Checking in with John White on Life at Google

2:10 – The New Gig and Making a Move

  • What does John actually do at Google?
    • John is a Customer Engineer, which is still a pre-Sales technical role. He talks with customers, understands their business, and aligns solutions to help solve technical problems that map to business problems.
  • What would make John want to pursue the SE role at a different company?
    • There were some challenges with the Sales territory John covered at VMware despite him loving his colleagues.
    • In some ways the change was unexpected, but he enjoyed the SE role enough to consider pursuing it somewhere else.
  • What other roles had John considered as being a logical next step after getting great experience as a SE?
    • He considered Technical Marketing and Management but had not put a lot of professional development time into it.
    • John took time to look around for internal openings at VMware from time to time. There was nothing that jumped out as an attractive next step.
    • A recruiter from Google had reached out to John a while before despite him not looking at the time. This got John’s attention enough for him to consider it for a call back.
  • How does John feel about moving to a competitor?
    • At first, John was concerned about this. After the move, he is not as worried.
    • As part of the interview process, John did deep dives into the Google Cloud portfolio as much as he could. Virtual machines and virtual infrastructure were a small portion of the portfolio.
    • In John’s opinion, there is some overlap in VMware and Google offerings, but Google seems to be targeting a different audience. There are likely more opportunities to partner than opportunities to compete.

11:31 – How is Life Different Now?

  • John works with "enterprise" customers (which is defined differently by different vendors). At Google, more of the portfolio is attractive to companies who have never purchased their own servers (i.e. smaller companies with large technology spend). As a result, "Cloud Native" customers are more represented in Google’s "enterprise" segment.
  • John was in a field resource at VMware (lived in geographic region he was serving but worked mostly from home when not visiting customers). At Google, because of the numerous office locations, employees are asked to spend time in the office multiple days per week.
    • He had to get used to going in to the Google office in San Francisco. Commuting every day was a big change (45-50 minute commute).
    • John had to change his sleep and wake times to adjust.
    • John prefers to use public transit and take it during times when it is not extremely congested.
    • The Google offices provide meals for employees as well.

17:05 – Product Portfolio and Team Dynamic

  • John is responsible for everything at level 100. He is asked to have a major in one technology and minor in something else. G Suite has its own specialist teams.
  • Google is trying to be flexible with the greater Sales teams. In different regions, SEs may be mapped to 1 or more Salespeople. The company is accommodating a great deal of growth.
  • As part of the transition, John had to move from using Office365 to G Suite. He was hesitant at first but is loving the change (i.e. entire team taking notes in the same Google doc at the same time).
  • John spent a long time pondering the type of computer to use (Pixelbook, Windows, Mac). He started with the Pixelbook and was given the option to swap it out later for a Mac or Windows device if he wanted. At the end of a few weeks, he stuck with the Pixelbook.

23:09 – Advice on Moving to Same Role at a Different Company

  • This is part of managing your career to be portable. You never know when you might have to pick up and move.
  • John focused on being the best SE he could be with a focus on understanding the customer and their problems.
    • The skills are very portable (i.e. using public information to understand a new customer’s business issues).
    • John’s customer mix changed at several junctions while at VMware, and he was able to share a playbook for success during the interview process.
    • He is grateful to VMware for the training that helped form these processes.
  • Think of yourself as a product to be sold, a bundle of skills and capabilities that describe what you bring to the table.

26:49 – Previous Experience with Google Cloud Products

  • John uses the Google Compute Engine for his blog as well as for the Nerd Journey site.
  • During the interview process, John was given some credits to tinker with Google Cloud products.
  • It seems like a young and growing company can’t hire folks with tons of experience in the product line. Google Cloud as an organization is fairly young.
  • The company seems to be interested in hiring people with varying backgrounds (coding, SE experience, CTO experience, etc.).
  • The Professional Cloud Architect Certification is something John’s management wanted complete within the first couple of months of employment. He knocked this out in early January 2020.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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